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How to Keep the Audience’s Attention without Losing Them

How to Keep the Audience’s Attention without Losing Them

If, like myself, you have played in a variety of trivia nights across the country then there are bound to have been times when it seemed like a chore. Bad Trivia hosts think more about themselves and their side of things than noticing what is going on in the minds of their players and this causes nothing but customer loss, bad reputations and ultimately the end of your trivia night. Without customers you have no trivia night and therefore you have to ensure their attention is with you all night. The minute you start to lose their attention and interest is the minute they start not caring about the trivia. You need to make sure your players are fully attentive from the first question to the last and this can be a struggle (especially when you factor in its likely to be a late evening and beer may be involved. Here are a few tips to ensure your trivia night is made fun, well paced and above all else that you, the Trivia host, keep every single member of the audience’s attention at all times.


The first thing to mention is the pace and style of the quiz. Pacing is vital….and I will repeat that as so many Trivia hosts tend to forget this….Pacing is everything! Do not, for one moment think you run the trivia night at the pace you read/mark/work. It won’t function that way. You need an effective plan, a good system and a well structured night otherwise your 2 hour quiz may develop into nothing but a yawn fest! Now, when using technology like a wireless buzzer system or an audience response keypad, this isn’t as much of an issue.  But in the rare instance I do pen and paper trivia there is a greater challenge to keep people from getting distracted with other matters.  For example, I like to structure my quiz so the players hand in sheets every 5 questions. Given them about 10 minutes from start to finish and collect the sheets in. Mark them quickly and dish them back out. Wait 3-4 minutes and resume with round 2. It works a treat as it means that the player always has something to do…answering, discussing answers, discussing marks. Their attention is with the trivia! Bingo!  And when you have their attention then they are having fun.  Players having fun also means you will get more referrals.


Also make clever use of the picture round in your trivia software. I use a 16 question picture round which I print and give out about 10-15 minutes before the questions begin to give players a good chance to look at it, study it and work out just who those damn faces are they have seen. The trick to keeping people’s attention is to make sure that you leave the picture round with them until maybe the half way stage and then during the first half, which I think is the key part of the quiz in terms of retaining players, the players will always have something to be looking at it. If you’re doing it this way though then you need to make 3-4 pictures very hard or niche so players get bogged down trying to recognize them. If they recognize all 16 in one go then it defeats the attention-holding point.


The interval is also a make or break point. Now, the bar owner is going to insist on an interval so people can head to bar to buy drinks. As I have said countless times on this blog your job as a trivia host is to make the venue money and if you are keeping the players so busy that they do not get a chance to go to the bar at all then you are not doing your job. The interval also gives players a chance to smoke, drink, chat and use the toilet. I am not for one minute suggesting not to have an interval but I am suggesting that you trim it down.


Too many Trivia hosts sit for 30 minutes plus during the interval. No need, players will start yawning, looking at their watch and thinking about home time. Don’t allow this. 10-15 minutes is perfectly fine. Obviously you need to judge the queues at the bar but generally in most venues all your players should be back and ready to play within 15 minutes. The interval balance will means players are still focused and ready to go.


In essence, I guess what I am trying to say , is that you need to make your trivia night a quick, pacey and constantly moving process where the players aren’t given time to get bored but still have time to fill up their glasses. The number one thing that puts me, an experienced trivia player, off attending a trivia night is the trivia host drags it out but hopefully you will deploy some of the methods above and have the attention of the players throughout.

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